Oli Grounsell is a low-key and unassuming climber who doesn’t take climbing too seriously but still has one of the most impressive résumés around, including trad routes up to E9, sport routes up to 8c+ and boulders up to 8B.
Oli was first introduced to climbing when he was 10, at a party at The Edge climbing centre in Sheffield.
“I really enjoyed it,” says Oli, “so I started going indoors regularly. After a few years I was introduced to the outdoors by my friend’s dad, Jon Cowley.”
Oli quickly started to ratchet up experience outdoors on the local Peak District grit and by the age of 16 had onsighted E5, his first route of that grade being White Wall at Millstone. Other impressive routes followed, including a flash of Masters of the Universe (E6/7 6b) and a smooth ascent of Offspring (E5 6b) at Burbage South, and an onsight (in the semi-darkness) of London Wall (E5 6a) and the second ascent of King Ellmore (E6 6a/b), both at Millstone the day before he turned 18.
Other notable ticks included Fat Slapper (E7 6c) at Eastwood Rocks, Shine On (E7 6c) and Wall of Sound (E6 6b) at Stanage and a flash of Cool Moon (E7 6c) at Curbar. Oli’s first E9 headpoint was the desperate and fingery The Zone (E9 6c) at Curbar, which he sent in early 2013, taking a number of falls onto skyhooks before his successful ascent.
Being a Peak District climber Oli also amassed an impressive ticklist of gritstone highballs/unprotected trad routes, including 3 Blind Mice (E7 | V8), Black Car Burning (E7 | V8), Cemetery Waits (E7 | V8) and Weather Report (E6 | V6). The real deal, however, came in September 2013 when Oli sent the gearless and intimidating arête of Simba’s Pride (E8 6b) at Burbage South. This was closely followed by French Kiss (E8 6b), also at Burbage South, and B4XS (E7 6b) at Hen Cloud.
In the autumn of 2013 Oli left Sheffield to study Sport Science at Bangor but he continued to make the most of climbing throughout his degree, building on his already notable list of trad, sport and highball bouldering ascents.
Shortly after arriving in North Wales Oli started ticking off hard boulders during the cold winter months, like Roctrocity (7C) and Hatchotrocity (8A), both at Parisella’s Cave. Once the warmer weather arrived he was out making the most of the trad scene, ticking routes like Heart of Stone (E7 6c) in the Ogwen Valley, Lord of the Flies (E6 6b) in the Llanberis Pass, the bold arête of Rare Lichen (E9 6c) on Gribbin Facet and making the second ascent of Night Stalker (HXS/E8) at Craig Dorys.